It all started in a baseball game we were watching but I don’t know how I got there. It was a chilled Saturday at around 13h00 and the noon the sun was shining nicely. My team was winning. When I looked on my right, there she was, my beautifully girlfriend Sarah. On my left was Erik, my best friend; we’ve been friends since first grade.

“Mike,” Erik whispered in my ear, “Steven and his friends want their money by the end of the game.”

I was confused. What money? Was I dreaming? I started pinching myself to see if it was a dream or not. Ouch, I felt the pain.

What was going on with me? I didn’t remember anything and I was not dreaming. Now I was worried about Steven that I didn’t even know. Who was he and what was I doing with his money and how much did me and Erik owe him? Erik looked me in the eyes as the game was about to be over. That’s when the referee, who was soaking wet from sweat, blew his whistle for the last time. My team had won and I was not happy.

Sarah told us to wait for her in the stands as she was going to the ladies. We waited.

“He comes Steven,” said Erik. I don’t even know who this Steven was or where to look for him.

“Where is he?” I asked Erik.

“The guy in the middle of those two men, wearing sunglasses and black-suits. Don’t play games with me Mike, don’t you know Steven now?”

So I saw Steven. Yho! He was huge but not as huge as the guys with him. He looked at us in the eye and gave us a very bad look and they walked away.

Now I was confused. Why didn’t Steven talk to us or say anything? Was Erik playing with me about us owing Steven? Should I be happy or worried as he didn’t come to us?

“And now, what’s going on?” I asked Erik.

“How should I know?” he answered with a worried face. Fifteen minutes later and Sarah still hadn’t come back from the ladies. “What is taking Sarah so long?” Erik asked and I didn’t reply. Now there was no one in the stadium but just a few people who worked there, cleaning. I looked at my watch, twenty-five minutes gone and still no sight of Sarah. We went to check in the toilets but she was not there. We looked for her everywhere in the stadium but she was nowhere to be found. I took my phone out and called her.

“It’s about time, I’ve been waiting for your call a long time.” That was not Sarah on the other side of the phone.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“That’s not what you should be worried about. You must be worried about how you will get my money.”

Oh, it must be Steven, I thought. He had Sarah; that’s the reason he left us in the stadium.

“Where are you? I got your money,”

“This is not a game my guy. I need my money and I’m giving you guys five hours to get my money and bring it to me, or bye-bye to your sweet-pie.” He hung up the phone.

I told Erik that Steven had Sarah and he started panicking.

“Let’s call the cops,” he said.

“No cops, Steven said.”

“Now what are we going to do?” Erik asked.

I replied, “We go and get my girl back.”

Steven texted me the address. We went there with no money with us or even a plan on how to rescue Sarah. It was a place out of town with many old buildings that were not in use. People there paid no attention towards what others did; everyone was minding their business.

I didn’t even know how much we owed Steven so I asked Erik.

“How much do we owe Steven my mate?”

“R200 000.”

“What the hell were we doing with so much money Erik?” Erik said we were gambling in a night club and we lost. And then we borrowed money from Steven and we lost all of it. Now he wanted his money back.

This was a quiet area. We saw young women in their 20s and we tried talking to them. They didn’t reply and didn’t even bother to stop and hear us. A man walked towards us and I tried to talk to him, but he too ignored us. Now we had to look for the building on our own as nobody wanted to help us. All the buildings looked the same and this made it difficult.

We were looking for a building called the Sanity Building. We were going to room 101 on the 5th Floor. A young girl saw us and she came to speak to us. “Free advice, say nothing, ask nothing and you will live longer around here, it’s a cruel place.”

“Can you please show us where Sanity Building is?” she pointed across the street and she left before we could even thank her.

We entered Sanity Building but no one was at the front desk. We went to the elevator and rode up to the 5th floor. We walked down the hall way and found room 101. We opened the door slowly without knocking. The room was empty, just a chair where Sarah was tied up and blind folded. Steven stood by the window smoking a cigarette with his men.

“Where’s my money?” Steven barked.

We mumbled and one of his men took a gun and pointed it at Sarah. He pulled the trigger.

Erik and I just couldn’t believe what was happening; it was like a movie. We were so scared that I think we both prayed – I know I did. Steven looked at us and asked again. “Where’s my money boys?” We were too shocked to reply. “It didn’t have to end this way my guys, but when people take me for granted this is what happens to them. Kill them boys.” he said and looked away.

Erik shouted, “Steven, please don’t do this. We will pay you back. You took someone important to us and we’ve learnt the lesson, we will get your money.”

“I have been listening to the same song for a long time and it’s now boring me.” His men started firing shots. Bullets were flying everywhere and there was nothing that we could have used to hide. Erik was down and his chest wasn’t beating. I knew that both people I cared about were dead, all because of gambling and debts.

I looked up there was a bullet coming straight to my face. “Oh God,” I screamed.

I woke up damn all over. I was asleep and it was all a dream. I was so happy.

“Mike, get down here and have breakfast or you’re gonna be late for school,” my mom shouted from down stairs.

My reality is that I’m just a kid in the 3rd grade with a huge crush on Sarah.


Tell us what you think: Do you people who struggle with gambling? How would you help them if you could?